UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
CIRCULAR No. 215
FEEDING DAIRY COWS IN CALIFORNIA
By F. W. WOLL
Many of the dairy cows in this state, as elsewhere, yield only
small amounts of milk, even when fresh, and have but little " dairy
blood" in them, being the issue of grade or scrub cows mated to
bulls of unknown breeding. Some of these cows cannot be changed
into profitable dairy animals by any special system of feeding that
might be adopted and the only hope their owner can have to make
any money on them is to sell them for beef. The dairy production of
most cows can, however, be greatly improved by adopting a system
of feeding that will provide plenty of feed of a suitable character,
both throughout the lactation period and while the cows are dry. In
the interior valleys, alfalfa is generally the sole feed of cows, and if
of good quality and supplied in ample amounts, it does very well
for cows giving only a small or medium flow of milk. Additional feed
must, however, be supplied for good dairy cows that produce two and
one-half to three gallons of milk or over a day, in order to insure
the largest production of which they are capable, viz., silage or roots,
when green feed is not available, and also some grain feed. Good
milch cows will give profitable returns for additional grain, even at
present feed prices and when fed roughage of excellent quality.
The character and kinds of grain feeds to be fed will depend on
the available roughage and on the market prices of the feeds. Barley,
dried beet pulp, cocoanut meal and mill feeds are ordinarily the
cheapest concentrates in this state ; as these feeds have approximately
a similar feeding value, pound for pound, and are of a medium protein
content, grain mixtures may be made up in accordance with the
relative cost of the feeds. Common mixtures are :
Dried beet pulp, rolled barley (or wheat bran), and cocoanut
meal, in the proportion of 2:1:1, by weight.
Rolled barley and dried beet pulp, equal parts, or mixed in the
proportion of 1:2 or 1:3.
Dried beet pulp, 3 parts, and cocoanut meal, 1 part.
Wheat bran (or shorts), ground milo (or rolled barley), and
cocoanut meal, equal parts by weight, etc.
These mixtures may be fed with either alfalfa hay alone or with
alfalfa hay and silage (or roots). If grain hay is fed, at least a pound
of cottonseed meal or linseed meal should be added to supply suf-
ficient protein for a maximum milk flow.
The silo has proved a good investment on California dairy and
stock farms, as it has in eastern and central states. It enables farmers
to secure a maximum feed supply from crops like Indian corn, sweet
sorghum, grain sorghums (milo, Egyptian corn, feterita), small
grains, Sudan grass, rye grass and clover, or alfalfa (first and last
cuttings only). 1 All these crops, with the exception of clover and
alfalfa, are high in starchy components and supplement nicely alfalfa
hay in feeding growing and milk-producing animals.
With a silo on the ranch the farmer can carry a maximum number
of cows and supply his stock with palatable succulent feed of a
uniform quality at any time during the year, thus furnishing con-
ditions that are especially favorable to a large milk production.
Where silage crops cannot be grown successfully, or where conditions
do not permit the building of silos, root crops, like mangels, carrots
or turnips, 2 may be raised to advantage on good land; where large
yields are obtained, roots make excellent substitutes for silage,
although they are not as convenient to feed out. On hilly land and
on ranches with only small areas of arable land, it is necessary to feed
some grain or other concentrates in order to reach and maintain a
satisfactory milk flow throughout the lactation period.
In order to secure the best results from a dairy, methods of herd
improvement must always be practiced along with correct feeding
methods, viz., culling the herd by disposing of all low producers (cows
yielding, say, less than two gallons of milk daily during the early
i For information on the subject of silo building or the making- and feeding
of silage, see California Agricultural Experiment Station Circular 138, ' ' The
Silo in California Agriculture"; Circular 173, "The Wood-hoop Silo"; and
Bulletin 282, "Trials with California Silage Crops for Dairy Coavs" (all free
upon application to Director, Agricultural Experiment Station, Berkeley, Cali-
2 Except when the milk is used for' the manufacture of butter, in which case
turnip feeding should be avoided.
part of the lactation), and adding to the herd young stock or milch
cows capable of a large production. In all cases, the best pure-bred
bull that one can afford, of the daily breed preferred and of a family
of high producers, should be placed at the head of the herd. Only
in this way can permanent improvement in the production of the
dairy be assured.
Liberal feeding is always advisable for good dairy cows. It is
only the feed eaten beyond that required for body maintenance which
gives returns ' ' at the pail " ; if fair proportions of nutrients of differ-
ent character are fed, such as are furnished in alfalfa and silage
made from the crops mentioned above, with or without grain, there
is no danger of fattening good dairy-bred cows, which are the only
kind that permit of profitable dairying under present-day conditions.
EXAMPLES OF RATIONS FOR DAIRY COWS
As concrete illustrations of rations that may be recommended for
dairy cows of different productive capacity under present conditions
in this state the following are suggested :
For cows producing less than a pound of butt erf at a day (less
than three gallons of milk per head) :
(1) Thirty pounds of alfalfa hay (or all they will eat).
(2) Eighteen pounds of alfalfa hay, thirty pounds silage (from
Indian corn, milo or sweet sorghum, small grains, Sudan grass, etc.).
For cows producing over a pound of butterfat a day:
(1) Twenty-five pounds alfalfa hay,, one pound of concentrates
for every four to five pounds of milk produced. Concentrates sug-
gested: Barley (or wheat bran), dried beet pulp, cocoanut meal, mixed
in proportion 2:1:1, by weight (or other grain mixtures given on
(2) Fifteen pounds alfalfa hay, twenty-five pounds silage, the
same grain mixture as above in a somewhat smaller proportion, say
one pound to every six pounds of milk.
If alfalfa costs more than 40 per cent of the average price of
the grain feeds, it is relatively expensive, and less hay and more grain
feeds will make both a more economical and efficient ration than those
When grain hay is fed and not alfalfa, either of the above rations
will be improved by adding about a pound of cottonseed or linseed
meal per head, since it is necessary in this case to supplement rough-
age with a grain mixture containing some high-protein concentrate;
linseed meal is too expensive to be fed to dairy cows in any but small
amounts, but cottonseed meal furnishes more protein for the money,
and, with either of the mixtures given, makes a palatable and effective
grain feed. If it cannot be obtained, wheat bran and cocoanut meal
mixed in the proportion of 2 or 3:1, by weight, will make a good
supplement when grain hay is fed. 3
CALCULATION OF RATIONS
For the convenience of farmers who want to know in how far the
rations they are feeding or intend to feed conform to the accepted
standards for dairy cows, a table showing the average composition of
common California feeding stuffs is given below. The method of
calculating the digestible components of rations will be readily under-
stood from the following examples.
(1) A dairy cow fed alfalfa only will eat, on the average, about 30
pounds per day. The table shows that 100 pounds of alfalfa hay
contain 13.9 pounds moisture, 9.7 pounds digestible protein, and 38.5
pounds digestible carbohydrates and fat. The amounts of nutrients
contained in 30 pounds are calculated as follows :
Digestible protein, 9.7 -s- 100 X 30 = 2.91.
Digestible carbohydrates and fat, 38.5 -^ 100 X 30 = 11.55.
Thirty pounds of alfalfa hay therefore contain 2.91 pounds of
digestible protein and 11.55 pounds of digestible carbohydrates and
fat. The nutritive ratio of the ration (i.e., the proportion of digestible
protein to digestible carbohydrates and fat) is 1:4, which is found
by dividing 11.55 by 2.91.
It has been fully established through extensive scientific investi-
gations and practical feeding experience that a good dairy cow
producing about 20 pounds of milk (2y 2 gallons) will require about
2 to 2.5 pounds of digestible protein and 12 to 15 pounds digestible
carbohydrates and fat in her daily feed. The exact proportion of
the two kinds of nutrients is not important, but a certain minimum
amount of protein, say toward 2 pounds for a cow yielding 20 pounds
of milk, must be supplied, and also sufficient total digestible nutrients
3 The following- publications of the California College of Agriculture are of
special value to the dairy farmer and are available for distribution :
Bulletin 271 — Feeding Dairy Calves in California.
Bulletin 282 — Trials with California Silage Crops for Dairy Cows.
Bulletin 301 — California State Dairy Cow Competition.
Bulletin 305 — The Influence of Barley on the Milk Secretion of Cows.
Circular 167 — Feeding Stuffs of Minor Importance.
to maintain as large a milk yield as the cow is capable of producing.
The nutritive ratio for good dairy cows may, therefore, vary accord-
ing to the character of the available feeds and their relative cost, from
about 1:4 to 1:6 or 7.
We note that a ration of only alfalfa contains larger amounts of
digestible protein and less digestible carbol^drates and fat than
called for by accepted feeding standards. While furnishing sufficient
nutrients for low-producing cows, such a ration of alfalfa only does
not enable good dairy cows to make the best possible production.
Direct experiments conducted at this station have shown that an
increase of up to 25 per cent in milk or butterfat may be confidently
expected by including in the ration fed such cows, low-protein
succulent feeds, like silage from Indian corn, sorghum, etc., with
additional grain feed of medium-protein content.
(2) As an example of calculating such a ration, we shall assume
that the following combination is fed : 15 pounds alfalfa hay, 25
pounds corn silage, and 6 pounds of a grain mixture composed of
dried beet pulp, rolled barley and cocoanut meal in the proportion
of 2 : 1 : 1, by weight (see page 6) .
15 lbs. alfalfa hay :
Dig. pro. 9.7 -h 100 X 15 = 1.46 lbs. Dig. c. + f. 38.5 -^ 100 X 15 = 5.78
25 lbs. Indian corn silage:
Dig. pro. 1.4 -r- 100 X 25 — .35 lbs. Dig. c. + f. 15.8 ~ 100 X 15 = 3.95
3 lbs. dried beet pulp:
Dig. pro. 4.1 -j- 100 X 3= .12 lbs. Dig. c. + f. 64.9 ■+- 100 X 3 = 1.95
1.5 lbs. rolled barley:
Dig. pro. 9.4 -MOO X 1.5= .14 lbs. Dig. c. + f. 75.9 -MOO X 1.5 = 1.14
1.5 lb. cocoanut meal:
Dig. pro. 16.4-M00 X1.5= .25 lbs. Dig. c. + f. 64.2 -f- 100 X 1.5 = .96
Totals 2.32 lbs. 13.78
Nutritive ratio 1:5.9
It will be seen that the ration given contains on the average 2.32
pounds digestible protein and 13.78 pounds digestible carbohydrates
and fat, its nutritive ratio being 1:5.9. Both as regards the amounts
of nutrients furnished and the ratio of the two kinds of nutrients,
this ration comes close to the standard and will doubtless prove an
efficient and economical ration for good dairy cows under ordinary
conditions of the feed stuffs market in this state.
Composition of Common California Feeding Stuffs, in Per Cent
.- Digestible Carbohydrates Nutr. Ratio,
Concentrates Moisture Protein 1:
Tankage 7.5 54.0 28.6 0.5
Cottonseed meal 7.0 37.6 43.0 1.1
Linseed meal 9.8 30.2 47.5 1.6
Cocoanut meal 14.1 16.4 64.2 3.9
Wheat bran • 11.9 11.9 47.6 4.0
Wheat middlings .... 11.2 13.0 55.8 4.3
Rolled oats 10.4 10.7 62.3 5.8
Boiled barley 10.8 9.4 75.9 8.1
Egyptian corn 12.6 8.0 71.0 8.9
Indian corn 10.6 7.8 76.5 9.8
Rice bran 10.1 7.9 57.9 7.3
Milo maize 10.7 8.7 71.2 8.2
Paddy rice 9.6 4.7 68.4 14.6
Dried beet pulp 8.4 4.1 64.9 15.8
Cane molasses 29.5 1.4 59.2 42.3
Alfalfa hay 13^9 9.7 38.5 4.0
Lima-bean straw .... 10.0 5.4 41.5 7.7
Oat hay 12.0 4,5 41.9 9.3
Barley hay 7.4 4.6 50.2 10.9
Sudan grass hay 7.2 3.0 51.4 17.1
Milo stalks 11.1 1.9 42.6 22.4
Corn stalks 40.5 1.4 32.8 23.4
Oat straw 9.2 1.3 41.3 31.8
Rice straw 7.5 0.9 38.5 42.8
Green alfalfa 71.8 3.6 13.0 3.6
Green kafir corn 76.1 1.7 13.5 7.9
Rye-grass pasture .... 73.2 1.5 14.2 9.5
Indian corn 79.3 1.0 12.8 12.8
Sweet sorghum 75.1 0.7 * 15.5 22.1
Alfalfa silage 74.4 2.3 12.8 5.6
Oat silage 72.0 1.5 16.8 11.2
Indian corn silage.. 73.6 1.4 15.8 11.3
Sweet sorghum silage 77.2 0.6 12.7 21.2
Milo silage 74.6 0.6 12.9 21.5
Mangels 90.9 1.0 6.0 6.0
Sugar beet leaves and
tops 76.0 1.3 9.1 7.0
Sugar beets 86.5 1.3 10.0 7.7
Turnips 90.1 0.9 6.6 9.3
Carrots 88.6 0.8 8.4 10.5
Potatoes 79.1 1.1 15.9 14.5
STATION PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION
168. Observations on Some Vine Diseases 278.
in Sonoma County. 279.
169. Tolerance of the Sugar Beet for Alkali. 280.
174. A New Wine Cooling Machine.
185. Report of Progress in Cereal Investi- 281.
208. The Late Blight of Celery. 282.
216. A Progress Report upon Soil and Cli-
matic Factors Influencing the Com- 283.
position of Wheat. 284.
230. Enological Investigations. 285.
242. Humus in California Soils. 286.
250. The Loquat. 288.
251. Utilization of the Nitrogen and Organi<
Matter in Septic and Imhoff Tank 290.
252. Deterioration of Lumber. 292.
253. Irrigation and Soil Conditions in the
Sierra Nevada Foothills, California. 293.
255. The Citricola Scale. 296.
257. New Dosage Tables. 297.
261. Melaxuma of the Walnut, "Juglans 298.
262. Citrus Diseases of Florida and Cuba
Compared with Those of California. 300.
263. Size Grades for Ripe Olives. 301.
264. The Calibration of the Leakage Meter.
266. A Spotting of Citrus Fruits Due to the 302.
Action of Oil Liberated from the
267. Experiments with Stocks for Citrus. 304.
268. Growing and Grafting Olive Seedlings.
270. A Comparison of Annual Cropping, Bi- 305.
ennial Cropping, and Green Manures
on the Yield of Wheat. 306.
271. Feeding Dairy Calves in California. 307.
272. Commercial Fertilizers. 308.
273. Preliminary Report on Kearney Vine-
yard Experimental Drain.
274. The Common Honey Bee as an Agent
in Prune Pollination. 309.
275. The Cultivation of Belladonna in Cali-
276. The Pomegranate. 311.
277. Sudan Grass.
50. Fumigation Scheduling. 136.
65. The California Insecticide Law. 137.
69. The Extermination of Morning-Glory. 138.
70. Observations on the Status of Corn 139.
Growing in California.
76. Hot Room Callusing.
82. The Common Ground Squirrels of 140.
107. Spraying Walnut Trees for Blight and
109. Community or Local Extension Work
by the High School Agricultural De-
110. Green Manuring in California.
111. The Use of Lime and Gypsum on Cali-
113. Correspondence Courses in Agriculture.
114. Increasing the Duty of Water.
115. Grafting Vinifera Vineyards.
117. The Selection and Cost of a Small
124. Alfalfa Silage for Fattening Steers.
126. Spraying for the Grape Leaf Hopper.
127. House Fumigation.
128. Insecticide Formulas.
129. The Control of Citrus Insects.
130. Cabbage Growing in California.
131. Spraying for Control of Walnut Aphis.
133. County Farm Adviser.
135. Official Tests of Dairy Cows.
Irrigation of Rice in California.
Irrigation of Alfalfa in the Sacramento
Control of the Pocket Gopher in Cali-
Trials with California Silage Crops for
The Olive Insects of California.
Irrigation of Alfalfa in Imperial Valley.
The Milch Goat in California.
Potash from Tule and the Fertilizer
Value of Certain Marsh Plants.
The June Drop of Washington Navel
Green Manure Crops in Southern Cali-
Sweet Sorghums for Forage.
Topping and Pinching Vines.
The Almond in California.
Seedless Raisin Grapes.
The Use of Lumber on California
California State Dairy Cow Competi-
Control of Ground Squirrels by the
A Study on the Effects of Freezes on
Citrus in California.
The Influence of Barley on the Milk
Secretion of Cows.
Pollination of the Bartlett Pear.
I. Fumigation with Liquid Hydrocianic
Acid. II. Physical and Chemical
Properties of Liquid Hydrocianic
I. The Carob in California. II. Nutri-
tive Value of the Carob Bean.
Investigations with Milking Machines.
Wood Decay in Orchard Trees.
The Silo in California Agriculture.
The Generation of Hydrocyanic Acid
Gas in Fumigation by Portable
The Practical Application of Improved
Methods of Fermentation in Califor-
nia Wineries during 1913 and 1914.
Practical and Inexpensive Poultry
Control of Grasshoppers in Imperial
Oidium or Powdery Mildew of the Vine.
Tomato Growing in California.
Feeding and Management of Hogs.
Some Observations on the Bulk Hand-
ling of Grain in California.
Announcement of the California State
Dairy Cow Competition, 1916-18.
Irrigation Practice in Growing Small
Fruits in California.
How to Operate an Incubator.
Control of the Pear Scab.
Home and Farm Canning.
Lettuce Growing in California.
White Diarrhoea and Coccidiosis of
Small Fruit Culture in California,
CIRCULARS — Continued
165. Fundamentals of Sugar Beet Culture 189.
under California Conditions. 190.
166. The County Farm Bureau. 191.
167. Feeding Stuffs of Minor Importance. 193.
168. Spraying for the Control of Wild 195.
Morning-Glory within the Fog Belt.
169. The 1918 Grain Crop. 197.
170. Fertilizing California Soils for the
1918 Crop. 198.
172. Wheat Culture. 199.
173. The Construction of the Wood-Hoop 200.
174. Farm Drainage Methods. 201.
175. Progress Report on the Marketing and 202.
Distribution of Milk.
176. Hog Cholera Prevention and the Serum 203.
177. Grain Sorghums.
178. The Packing of Apples in California. 205.
179. Factors of Importance in Producing 206.
Milk of Low Bacterial Count. 207.
181. Control of the California Ground 208.
182. Extending the Area of Irrigated Wheat 209.
in California for 1918. 210.
183. Infectious Abortion in Cows. 211.
184. A Flock of Sheep on the Farm. 212.
185. Beekeeping for the Fruit-grower and 213.
Small Rancher or Amateur. 214.
187. Utilizing the Sorghums.
188. Lambing Sheds.
Winter Forage Crops.
Agriculture Clubs in California.
Pruning the Seedless Grapes.
A Study of Farm Labor in California.
Revised Compatibility Chart of Insecti-
cides and Fungicides.
Suggestions for Increasing Egg Produc-
tion in a Time of High-Feed Prices.
Syrup from Sweet Sorghum.
Onion Growing in California.
Growing the Fall or Second Crop of
Potatoes in California.
Helpful Hints to Hog Raisers.
County Organization for Rural Fire
Peat as a Manure Substitute.
Handbook of Plant Diseases and Pest
Summary of the Annual Reports of the
Farm Advisors of California.
The Function of the Farm Bureau.
Suggestions to the Settler in California.
Saving Raisins by Sulfuring.
Salvaging Rain-Damaged Prunes.
Evaporators for Prune Drying.
Seed Treatment for the Prevention of